31 August 2013

Petula Clark: “Downtown”

As we close this blessed week, I offer this version Petula Clark singing “Downtown” (on The Dean Martin Show in 1967):

On Monks and the Development of the @ Symbol

“The @ symbol is one of the Internet’s most ubiquitous characters; and modern writers would probably be hard-pressed to think of a way that they would use it in a non-digital context. However, the ‘at’ sign was actually invented hundreds of years ago, by monks, according to scholars.

“Before Gutenberg’s printing press, written material in the Western world consisted mainly of religious texts. The laborious process of book creation was mostly done by monks who painstakingly copied everything by hand. The number of pen strokes required to form each letter directly affected the speed of transcription, and scholars suggest that the ‘at’ sign arose as way to decrease the number of strokes needed.”

A recent Huffington Post article explained the connection between monks and the “@” symbol.

To access the complete article, please visit:

Huffington Post: ‘At’ Sign History Suggests Monks Invented The Symbol ‘@’ (23 AUG 13)

Thank you, Deacon Greg Kandra, for the tip.

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for continuing to call men and women to the priesthood and consecrated religious life.

On the Sisters of Life, Other Millennials and Religious Life

“In October 2012, a study conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) based at Georgetown University found that the Catholic Church in the United States has an abundance of potential priests, religious brothers, and sisters – by their estimates, almost 600,000 individuals who have never married and who have seriously considered a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life. This is welcome news for a Catholic population that continues to grow and benefits from the support and service of those committed to these vocations.

“Earlier this month I saw that potential become reality. I had the privilege of attending a Mass in Stamford, Conn., where four women made their perpetual vows and another four sisters took their first vows to the Sisters of Life, a contemplative/active religious community. Along with the traditional vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, these sisters take a fourth vow to ‘protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.’ Since its founding in 1991 by the late Cardinal John O’Connor of New York, it has become one of the fastest-growing religious orders in the country.

“Yet at a time when Church teaching often stands in contradiction to the prevailing culture, many people characterize those who enter religious life as strange or radical in their religious fervor. These cynics consider the religious vocation as a way to escape from the real world, or a means of settling for an easier way of life. Indeed, in an article that appeared online in The Atlantic earlier this month, writer Emma Green asked that very question regarding today’s teens and young adults: ‘Why would a millennial become a priest or a nun?’

“In attempting to provide an answer to this question, Green interviews a number of millennials who have chosen to enter religious life. What she found probably surprised most secular readers: Not only are these young people not choosing to ‘settle,’ but they actually are enthusiastic about the challenging lives they are being called to live. In fact, it’s the challenge and contradiction to the world around them that they find so attractive.”

In a recent commentary, writer Christopher White (who is also Director of Education and Programs at the Center for Bioethics and Culture) reflected on the calling of the Sisters of Life and how this calling is an example of the sacrifice and hard work being embraced by millennials as they follow their vocation.

To access Mr. White’s complete article, please visit:

Catholic Pulse: Sisters of Life: Prophets in a Pagan World (28 AUG 13)

Reflection Starter from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

“Put your heart at His feet. It is the gift He loves most.” – Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

30 August 2013

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for calling each of us to holiness and for the many spiritual resources You offer us as we strive to answer this call.

Msgr. Pope on Treating Appropriately That Which Is Sacred

“The Gospel of Matthew features two hard sayings, or expressions, of the Lord. They are ‘hard’ because they offend against modern notions. And since they are difficult for us ‘moderns’ to hear and we are easily taken aback by their abrupt and coarse quality. Here is the ‘offending’ verse:

Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces. (Mt 7:6)”

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the importance of treating appropriately that which is sacred.

To access Msgr. Pope’s complete post, please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: Two Hard Sayings of the Lord that Offend Modern Notions (20 AUG 13)

Reflection Starter from Robert Browning

“Our aspirations are our possibilities.” – Robert Browning

29 August 2013

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for bishops who encourage us in the growth of our faith lives and who encourage us in living our faith in the various situations we encounter in each aspect of our daily lives.

USCCB 2013 Labor Day Statement

The growing disparity in the income of U.S. workers is the focus of the 2013 Labor Day Statement of Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton (California), chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

In the statement, dated 2 September, Bishop Blaire states that most people want to live in a more equal society that provides opportunities for everyone. “The current imbalances do not have to be inevitable,” Bishop Blaire writes. “We must be bold in promoting a just economy that reduces inequality by creating jobs that pay a living wage and share with workers some profits of the company, as well as ensuring a strong safety net for jobless workers and their families and those who are incapable of work.”

Bishop Blaire echoed the words of Pope Francis, that “work is fundamental to the dignity of a person . . .  it gives us the ability to maintain oneself, one’s family, to contribute to the growth of one's own nation.” Bishop Blaire said millions of workers are “denied this honor and respect as a result of unemployment, underemployment, unjust wages, wage theft, abuse or exploitation.”

Even amid a modest economic recovery, he said, “Over four million people have been jobless for over six months, and that does not include the millions more who have simply lost hope; for every available job, there are as many as five unemployed and underemployed people actively vying for it. This gap pushes wages down – half of the jobs in this country pay less than $27,000. Over 46 million people live in poverty, 16 million of them children,” he writes.

He noted that individuals, the Church, businesses, government, and community organizations all share the responsibility to create jobs that allow workers to support themselves and their families.

“Ethical and moral business leaders know that it is wrong to chase profits and success at the expense of workers’ dignity,” he wrote. “They know they have a vocation to build the kind of solidarity that honors the worker and the least among us. They remember that the economy is ‘for people.’”

Bishop Blaire cited the importance of unions in helping workers participate in company decisions that affect them and noted that the rise in income inequality has paralleled the decline of unions in the United States. He urged unions to continually improve themselves and focus on issues including “raising the minimum wage, stopping wage theft,” and “standing up for safe and healthy working conditions.”

Bishop Blaire also voiced support for immigrants, calling for policies that “bring immigrant workers out of the shadows to a legal status and offer them a just and fair path to citizenship, so that their human rights are protected and the wages for all workers rise.”

To read the Labor Day statement in its entirety, please visit:

Bishop Murphy/USCCB: Labor Day Statement 2013

Reflection Starter from Archbishop Fulton Sheen

“The proud man counts his newspaper clippings, the humble man his blessings.” – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

28 August 2013

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for mentors who guide and encourage our young people.

Br. Leo, O.P., on the Black Prince and the Prince of Peace

“When he arrived at the hill, he knew that he did not need to go any further.

“This resolve seemed out of place, given that he would be facing a force about twice as large as his own. Furthermore, he was far from home. Although the campaign was one of invasion (or, for him, reclamation), his strategy for this battle would be a defensive one.

“His battle lines selected, there was but one further task to complete. To round out the field commanders in his army, he opted to knight his sixteen-year-old son, and to entrust him with an entire wing of the force, one division of the three. After today, he would be notorious: his appellation ‘The Black Prince’ signified his fearsome attire and military prowess.”

In a recent commentary, Brother Leo Camurati, O.P., reflected on the similarities between the 1346 battle in Crécy with Jesus’ manifestation of divine power in His encounters during His earthly life.

To access Brother Leo’s complete post, please visit:

Dominicana: Two Princes (26 AUG 13)

Reflection Starter from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

27 August 2013

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many blessings You have been and are bestowing on our children.

Archbishop Chaput on Why Faith Matters in Our Lives

“In Catholic belief, all human life, no matter how wounded, flawed, young or old, is sacred because it comes from God. And we have an obligation to defend it. The dignity of a human life and its right to exist are guaranteed by God. . . .

“Actively witnessing to our convictions and advancing what we believe about key moral issues in public life is not coercion. It’s honesty. It’s an act of truth-telling. It’s vital to the health of every democracy. And again, it’s also a duty – not only of our religious faith, but also of our citizenship.

“All law has moral content. It’s an expression of what we ‘ought’ to do. Therefore law teaches as well as regulates. Good laws can help make a nation more human; more just; more noble. But ultimately even good laws are useless if they govern a people who, by their choices, make themselves venal and callous, foolish and self-absorbed. . . .

“We create a culture of life in the measure that we give our lives to others. The deepest kind of revolution never comes from violence. Even politics, important as it is, is a poor tool for changing human hearts. Nations change when people change. And people change through the witness of other people . . . .”

In an address at the recent national conference of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (CALL), Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Philadelphia, reflected on why faith matters, on why Catholics have a duty to bring their beliefs to bear on every social, economic, and political problem facing their community.

To access a transcript of Archbishop Chaput’s complete talk, please visit:

CatholicPhilly: Archbishop Chaput Homilies & Speeches: Why faith matters: Belief as a cornerstone of what it means to be human (23 AUG 13)

Thank you, Deacon Greg Kandra, for the tip!

Reflection Starter from Blessed Pope John Paul II

“God is Love. We eventually have to ask ourselves the question; why was Love nailed to a cross?” – Blessed Pope John Paul II

26 August 2013

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the delight You take in Your people.

“I Give It All to God”

“When suicidal gunman Michael Jordan Hill entered Decatur, Georgia’s, Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy, everyone feared it would be another Sandy Hook. The gunman never made it past the front office, though, where he held school bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff (whose last name seems especially appropriate now) hostage.”

In a recent commentary, Tony Rossi, of The Christophers, offered a reflection on the the courage and patience shown by Ms. Tuff during this ordeal.

To access his complete post, please visit:

Christopher Closeup: “I Give It All to God,” Says Heroine Who Stopped Georgia School Shooter (21 AUG 13)

Reflection Starter

“A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” – Chinese Proverb

25 August 2013

Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Isaiah 66:18-21; Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13; and Luke 13:22-30. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 117 (Psalm 117:1-2).

For one version of the Responsorial Psalm set to music, please visit:

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 117 “Goodness and Fidelity of God”

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?”

He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from. And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’ Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’ And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out. And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Reflections on this day and on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (August 25th, 2013)

Msgr. Charles Pope: Sinner Please Don’t Let this Harvest Pass – A Teaching on the readings for the 21st Sunday of the year (24 AUG 13)

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio: Narrow Door to Heaven

Word on Fire: Sermon 658: The Narrow Gate: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Sacred Page: Will Many Be Saved? The 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (21 AUG 13)

Dr. Scott Hahn: Gateway to Life (August 25th 2013 - 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time)

The Catholic World Report Blog: How narrow is the way of the Cross? (24 AUG 13)

Spirituality of the Readings: Consoling Hope (21st Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You are encouraging and strengthening the people in Your Church.

Msgr. Pope on Encouraging Happenings in the Church

There’s a common thread among many traditional Catholics (and some left-wingers too) that ‘the Church has gone down the tubes.’ This seems to be a basic set point in too many conversations, and if one runs too far afield from this view they are ‘one of them’ or are ‘off message.’

“But I want to say to all the negative ones: the Church is a Bride, not a widow.”

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on many of the good things that are happening in the Church during these times.

To access Msgr. Pope’s complete post, please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: The Church is a Bride, not a Widow. A Word of Reminder and Encouragement to the Faint-hearted and Negative Ones. (18 AUG 13)

Reflection Starter from St. Thomas Aquinas

“If, then, you are looking for the way by which you should go, take Christ, because He Himself is the way.” – Saint Thomas Aquinas

24 August 2013

B. J. Thomas: “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”

As this blessed week winds down, I offer this version of B. J. Thomas singing “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your nearness to all who call upon You.

Monastery of San Benedetto and Its Birra Nursia

“Even before retired Pope Benedict XVI set up a pontifical council for new evangelization and convoked a world Synod of Bishops on the theme, a new group of Benedictine monks was using Latin and liturgy to reach out to those whose faith was weak or nonexistent.

“Now they've added beer to the blend, and people are flocking to the monastery in Norcia, the birthplace of St. Benedict, about 70 miles northeast of Rome in the Umbrian countryside.

“But for the 18 members of St. Benedict’s monastery, life is still about prayer.”

A recent Catholic News Service report profiled the Monastery of San Benedetto in Norcia (located in the Umbria region of central Italy) and and the role its brewer plays in its striving to proclaim the Gospel message.

To access the complete CNS article, please visit:

CNS: Beauty and beer: Monks’ outreach is part of new evangelization (21 AUG 13)

Background information:

Monastery of San Benedetto

Birra Nursia brewery

Order of Saint Benedict

Reflection Starter from Andre Maurois

“Life is too short to be little. Often we allow ourselves to be upset by little things we should forget . . . . We may lose many irreplaceable hours brooding over small grievances that in a year’s time will be forgotten. So let us devote our lives to worthwhile actions and feelings – to great thoughts, real affection and enduring undertakings.” – Andre Maurois

23 August 2013

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways You use relics to encourage us in our faith lives.

Kathy Schiffer on Relics

“What, Exactly, Is a Relic?

“First, let’s clear up what it’s not.  Catholics do not, under any circumstances, “worship” relics.

“St. Jerome wrote, ‘We do not worship, we do not adore, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the creator, but we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore him whose martyrs they are.’”

In a recent commentary, writer Kathy Schiffer reflected on the place of relics in the Church.

To access Ms. Schiffer’s complete post, please visit:

Seasons of Grace: Relics: Pious Devotion, Healing Power, or Something Else? (14 AUG 13)

Reflection Starter from Ralph Waldo Emerson

“An individual has a healthy personality to the exact degree to which they have the propensity to look for the good in every situation.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

22 August 2013

Walt Whitman: “Miracles”

WHY! who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach, just in the edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love . . .
Or sit at table at dinner with my mother,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive, of a summer forenoon,
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds – or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sun-down – or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new moon in spring;
Or whether I go among those I like best, and that like me best – mechanics, boatmen,
farmers,
Or among the savans – or to the soiree – or to the opera,
Or stand a long while looking at the movements of machinery,
Or behold children at their sports,
Or the admirable sight of the perfect old man, or the perfect old woman,
Or the sick in hospitals, or the dead carried to burial,
Or my own eyes and figure in the glass;
These, with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring – yet each distinct, and in its place.

To me, every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same;
Every spear of grass – the frames, limbs, organs, of men and women, and all that
concerns them,
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.

To me the sea is a continual miracle;
The fishes that swim – the rocks – the motion of the waves – the ships, with men
in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

                                                                - Walt Whitman

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your invitation to Your heavenly Kingdom and for the many ways You encourage us to accept this invitation.

Msgr. Pope on the Number of Priests per Parish – 1950 vis-à-vis 2013

“It is a common notion that the number of priests has plummeted in this country. Many speak of the halcyon days when there were four and five priests per parish, and the seminaries were packed. And while some of these memories are accurate, they are drawn from a time in this country that was very brief.

“The fact is, the number of priests per parish spiked sharply after 1950 and has now leveled back to the levels of 1950 and before.”

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the number of priests per U.S. parish in 1950 vis-à-vis the number of priests per parish in 2013.

To access Msgr. Pope’s complete post, please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: Welcome to 1950! A Surprising Statistic About the Number of Priests per parish (15 AUG 13)

Reflection Starter from F. W. Faber

“Remember that if the opportunities for great deeds should never come, the opportunities for good deeds are renewed day by day. The thing for us to long for is the goodness, not the glory.” – F. W. Faber

21 August 2013

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov: “The Snow Maiden Suite”

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of the Austin Civic Orchestra performing “The Snow Maiden: A Spring Fairy Tale,” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for answering our prayers – even when we may have forgotten we offered these prayers.

Fr. Barron on the Impact of Music on Our Piety

In response to a question from Paige Rees (from L’Angelus), Father Robert Barron recently offered some thoughts on how music (liturgical and otherwise) impacts our personal piety and holiness.

To access Fr. Barron’s complete video reflection, please visit:

Matthew Warner: Ask Fr. Barron: What impact does music make on our piety? (1 FEB 13)

Background information:

Fr. Barron’s Word on Fire Ministry

Reflection Starter from Jack Kornfield

“No matter how arduous the path, and how much effort is expended, in the end the awakening of the heart comes as an act of grace.” – Jack Kornfield

20 August 2013

“Song Of The Redeemed”

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of “Song Of The Redeemed”:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your inspirations that lead to reverence in Your people.

Fr. Longenecker on Faith Integrated in life Within a Catholic Culture

“Someone has joked, ‘In Central America it’s not really a valid Mass unless there is a dog present.’ I was therefore amused to see that at one of the Pope’s liturgies in Brazil a stray dog wandered onto the stage. For five years I took some American high school kids to El Salvador on a mission trip. The  Catholicism I experienced there helps me admire and understand Pope Francis. Sometimes there were dogs at the liturgy. Sometimes there were madmen and screaming children. There was loud music and no air conditioning. It was hot. It was real. It was the beautiful struggle man!”

In a recent commentary, Father Dwight Longenecker (parish priest at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Greenville, SC) reflected on some Catholic ideas and principles that are “deeply woven into the South American and Central American worldview and self understanding.” Consequently, their emphasis on community and family and shared responsibility for one another is higher on the agenda than this emphasis tends to be in the United States.

To access Fr. Longenecker’s complete post, please visit:

Standing on My Head: The Pope the Dog and the Bicycle Bell (13 AUG 13)

Background information:

Dwight Longenecker - Catholic priest and author

Reflection Starter from Frederic Dan Huntington

“What we really see day by day depends less on the objects and scenes before our eyes than on the eyes themselves and the minds and hearts that use them.” – Rev. Frederic Dan Huntington

19 August 2013

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which the various elements of Your created world work together to accomplish Your purposes.

Churches Appearing in Movies

“California is home to many beautiful Catholic churches as well as home to Hollywood.

“Consequently, the state’s churches have frequently caught the eye of filmmakers and appeared in well-known movies and television shows.”

A recent National Catholic Register article profiled some churches that have appeared in movies.

To access the complete National Catholic Register article, please visit:

National Catholic Register: California Churches Make Hollywood Cameos (10 AUG 13)

Reflection Starter from Tom Stoppard

“Every exit is an entrance somewhere else.” – Tom Stoppard

18 August 2013

Ride4Cops Honors Fallen Police Officers

Ride4Cops, an initiative in which participants are striving to ride to each State Capitol to raise awareness of the inherent dangers of law enforcement and to support the friends and families that fallen officers leave behind, visited Boston, MA, on Saturday, 17 August.

With each ride, donations are collected and remain in the local community to help the spouses, parents, siblings, and children of officers killed in the line of duty. In their Boston visit, the Ride4Cops participants commemorated in a special way MIT Police Officer Sean Collier, who was killed in a confrontation with the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing.

A Ride4Cops events is planed in Maine on Monday, 19 August.

Media reports:

NECN: Police officers honor fallen comrades with motorcycle ride (17 AUG 13)

Boston Globe: Police ride pays tribute to fallen MIT officer (18 APR 13)

Boston Globe Photo Gallery: Ride4Cops honors Collier, fallen officers

Background information:

Ride4Cops

YouTube: C.O.P.S. - Harry Harington's Ride4Cops Brings Awareness to 50 States

Ride 4 COPS | Maine

Facebook: Ride4Cops Vermont Event

The History of the World in a Single Chart

The Vault, the history blog of the general interest webmagazine Slate, recently offered a “Histomap” (first printed by Rand McNally in 1931). This Histomap was designed to compress four thousand years of world history into an elongated chart.

To access this Histomap, please visit:

Slate: The Vault: The Entire History of the World—Really, All of It—Distilled Into a Single Gorgeous Chart (12 AUG 13)

“Taste and See”

As we continue our Sunday celebration, I offer this version of “Taste and See”:

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10; Hebrews 12:1-4; and Luke 12:49-53. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 40 (Psalm 40:2-4, 18).

For one version of the Responsorial Psalm set to music, please visit:

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 40 “Ardent Longing for God”

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Reflections on this day and on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Cycle C) (August 18, 2013)

Msgr. Charles Pope: The Battle is Engaged…Choose Sides! A Homily for the 20th Sunday of the Year (17 AUG 13)

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio: Not Peace but the Sword

Word on Fire: Sermon 658: I Have Come to Cast a Fire Upon the Earth: 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Sacred Page: “Family Values”: 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (13 AUG 13)

Dr. Scott Hahn: Faith of Our Fathers (August 18th 2013 - 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

The Catholic World Report Blog: The Purifying Fire of Dividing, Divine Love (17 AUG 13)

Spirituality of the Readings: A Furious Love (20th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of faith.

Dr. Michael Pakaluk on “Light of Faith” (Lumen fidei)

“Pope Francis’ first encyclical, ‘Light of Faith’ (Lumen fidei), is certainly the easiest-to-read papal writing in recent years. . . . Such clarity is appropriate for an encyclical which is primarily interested in emphasizing how faith illuminates. Please allow this to sink in: faith sheds light; it assists us in seeing; it helps us see truth and especially the most important truths. Many of these truths, too, are important ‘common goods’ for life together in the family and in the society.”

In a recent commentary, Dr. Michael Pakaluk, Chairman and Professor of Philosophy at Ave Maria University, reflected on Light of Faith (Lumen fidei), the encyclical recently issued by Pope Francis.

To access Dr. Pakaluk’s complete essay, please visit:

Boston Pilot: 'I Was Blind but Now I See': The Light of Faith (16 AUG 13)

Background information:

Pope Francis: Encyclical Letter Lumen fidei

Reflection Starter from Pope Francis

“Humility makes us aware every day that it is not we who build the Kingdom of God, but rather it is always the grace of the Lord that acts in us; humility that urges us to give ourselves not in service to ourselves or our ideas, but in the service of Christ and the Church, like clay vases - fragile, inadequate, insufficient, but inside which there is an immense treasure we carry and communicate.” – Pope Francis

17 August 2013

Dee Dee Sharp: “Mashed Potato Time”

As we close this blessed week, I offer this version Dee Dee Sharp performing Mashed Potato Time:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways in which You encourage us to see the light of Your face shining on us through the face of each person in our lives.

U.S. Bishops on March on Washington Anniversary: Time To Face Unmet Goals

The 50th anniversary of the 28 August 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom calls people to address poverty, racism and class inequality, said the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Cultural Diversity.

The committee, which is chaired by Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas, issued its statement on 13 August, as the nation prepares to commemorate the event at which Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech on the National Mall.

‘We join our voices to those who call for and foster continued dialogue and non-violence among people of different races and cultures, and who work tirelessly for the transformative, constructive actions that are always the fruit of such authentic dialogue,” the bishops said. “We rejoice in the advances that have occurred over the past 50 years, and sadly acknowledge that much today remains to be accomplished. However, we must always view the task that remains from the perspective of the continued call to hope and in the light of faith.”

The bishops cited both Dr. King, who said “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope,” and Pope Francis, who in his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, declared that “Faith teaches us to see that every man and woman represents a blessing for me, that the light of God’s face shines on me through the faces of my brothers and sisters.”

The bishops urged solidarity to meet the goals of the 1963 march.

“We join the call for positive action that seeks to end poverty, increase jobs, eliminate racial and class inequality, ensure voting rights, and that provides fair and just opportunities for all,” they said.

To access the complete statement of the bishops, please visit:

USCCB Committee on Cultural Diversity in the Church: Statement on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Background information:

Stanford University: Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute: March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

American Rhetoric: Martin Luther King, Jr.: I Have a Dream

Pope Francis: Encyclical Letter Lumen fidei

Reflection Starter from Lin Yutang

“There is a purifying power in laughter – both for individuals and for nations. If they have a sense of humor, they have the key to good sense, to simple thinking, to peaceable temper, and to a cultural outlook on the world.” - Lin Yutang

16 August 2013

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for farms and the role they play in our world and for those who work in the field of agriculture.

On the Conversion of Marilyn Grodi

“As many of my clients strove to overcome their addictions to drugs or alcohol, I always suggested they tap into a powerful source for recovery--God.  Sure, some people did it without him, but not most.  God could pick them up where they were at and carry them through the pain and struggles all addicts must work through.    However, it became harder and harder to send people to Narcotics and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings without feeling like a hypocrite What of my own spiritual recovery?

In a recent commentary, Marilyn Grodi (who is is married to Marcus Grodi, host of EWTN’s The Journey Home), reflected on her journey to the Catholic Church.

To access her complete post, please visit:

Patti Maguire Armstrong: The Conversion of Marilyn Grodi (Wife of EWTN's Marcus Grodi) (12 AUG 13)

Reflection Starter from Fr. Brian Cavanaugh

“Simply put: You gotta do what you gotta do, in order to get where you want to go.” – Father Brian Cavanaugh, TOR

15 August 2013

“Invitation”

This “Today’s Illustration” was recently offered by Pastor Tim Davis (pastor of Westside Bible Church, Victoria, British Columbia):

Invitation

A nurse on the pediatric ward, before listening to the little ones chests, would plug the stethoscope into their ears and let them listen to their own hearts. Their eyes would always light up with awe, but she never got a response equal to four-year old David’s comment.

Gently she tucked the stethoscope into his ears and placed the disk over his heart. “Listen,” she said . . . . . . . . “What do you suppose that is?”

He drew his eyebrows together in a puzzled line and looked up as if lost in the mystery of the strange tap - tap - tapping deep in his chest.

Then his face broke out in a wondrous grin and he asked, “Is that Jesus knocking?”

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The assigned readings are Revelation 11:19, 12:1-6, 10; 1 Corinthians 15:20-27; and Luke 1:39-56. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 45 (Psalm 45: 10-12, 16).

For one version of the Responsorial Psalm set to music, please visit:

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 45 “The Queen stands at Your right hand, Lord”

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;  my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

965. After her Son’s Ascension, Mary “aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers.” In her association with the apostles and several women, “we also see Mary by her prayers imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation.”

966. “Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.” The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:

967. By her complete adherence to the Father’s will, to his Son’s redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church’s model of faith and charity. Thus she is a “preeminent and . . . wholly unique member of the Church”; indeed, she is the “exemplary realization” (typus) of the Church.

Background information:

Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII:  Munificentissimus Deus - Defining the Dogma of the Assumption (1 November 1950)

Additional reflections:

Msgr. Charles Pope: Some Biblical Roots of the Teaching on the Assumption of Mary (14 AUG 13)

Marcellino D'Ambrosio: The Feast of Mary’s Assumption

Deacon Greg Kandra: Homily for August 15, 2010: Vigil of the Assumption

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways You draw people to reflect on You and Your presence as they reflect on the awesomeness of Your created world.

Msgr. Pope on Stained Glass and the Book of Revelation

“Most Catholics are unaware of how our traditional church buildings are based on designs given by God himself. Designs that stretch all the way back to Mount Sinai when God set forth the design for the sanctuary in the desert and the tent of meeting. Many of the fundamental aspects of our church layouts still follow that plan and the stone version of it that became the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Our traditional church buildings also have numerous references to the Book of Revelation and the Book of Hebrews, both of which describe the heavenly liturgy and heaven itself.”

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on stained and the role it serves in our church buildings.

To access Msgr. Pope’s complete post, please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: Stained Glass and the Book of Revelation: How our Church buildings Reflect the Heavenly Vision of St. John (13 AUG 13)

Reflection Starter from C. S. Lewis

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C. S. Lewis

14 August 2013

Johannes Brahms: “Symphony No.4 in E minor”

It’s time for some classical music. This is a presentation of Johannes Brahms’  “Symphony No.4 in E minor” (Op. 98) as played by the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks (Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra):

A Look at Playground Safety Concerns

The latest issue of the education trade journal, District Administration, examines concerns related to playground safety.

To access the District Administration articles, please visit:

District Administration: Perceived risk leaps onto school playgrounds (August 2013)

District Administration: Playground training can prevent lawsuits, injuries (August 2013)

Related media report:

Urban Milwaukee: Two-Thirds of School Recreational Facilities are Inadequate (27 JUN 13)

Background information:

National Program for Playground Safety

CPSC: CPSC Public Playground Safety Handbook (November 2010)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your servants who minister to us at the cost of their own earthly lives.

Reflection Starter from Corrie ten Boom

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” – Corrie ten Boom

Fr. Longenecker on Money Worries

“I found myself worrying about money the other day. I’m privileged to be parish priest of the poorest and smallest parish in town. We’re situated in an area of the city with the most difficult demographic in socio-economic terms. We’re trying to build a splendid new church. Our school buildings are fifty years old and leaky. Our existing buildings are used over capacity and we work on half the budget and manpower we really need. So I worry about money sometimes.

“But, as my Sunday School teacher used to say, ‘Why worry when you can pray?’ Praying about your money problems really does help to sort them out. . . .”

In a recent commentary, Father Dwight Longenecker (parish priest at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Greenville, SC), reflected on how one can avoid worrying about money.

To access Fr. Longenecker’s complete post, please visit:

Standing on My Head: Worried About Money? (9 AUG 13)

Background information:

Dwight Longenecker - Catholic priest and author

13 August 2013

Meredith Andrews: “You’re Not Alone”

As we continue to live this week, I offer this version of Meredith Andrews singing “You’re Not Alone”:

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your call to and for opportunities You have given us to reflect on our lives and turn them over to You.

Msgr. Pope on Our Call to Repentance and Conversion

“Too many Catholics are uncomfortable using the biblical and traditional words, ‘Repent,’ convert and conversion. To repent means to change your mind and come to a new way of living. To convert means to turn from sinful ways or erroneous teaching.

But too many Catholics, including priests are uncomfortable using words like this. We used to speak of convert classes etc. But now many prefer abstract descriptions like, ‘Inquiry Classes’ or the even more abstract ‘RCIA’

“Many draw back lest they seem to suggest that others are wrong, ‘going wrong,’ need to change, or, heaven [forbid], ‘sinful.’  Words like repent and convert more than suggest that there is right and wrong, true and false, sanctity and sinfulness, good and evil.”

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the call to repentance and to conversion that each of us is receiving from the Lord and on th eimportance of turning our lives over to Jesus in love and obedience.

To access Msgr. Pope’s complete post, please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: Repent! Convert! Two Words that Need to Be Rediscovered. (7 AUG 13)

Reflection Starter from Dr. Ann Flanders

“Maturity is the ability to do a job whether or not you are supervised, to carry money without spending it, and to bear an injustice without wanting to get even.” – Dr. Ann Flanders

12 August 2013

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for entrepreneurs who strive to service people well with excellent products and services.

Benedictine Nuns CD on No. 1 Billboard Classical Music Chart for 13 Weeks

“A group of contemplative nuns from Missouri put their prayerful singing onto a CD -- and it's been at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Classical Music Chart for 13 consecutive weeks.

“‘Angels and Saints at Ephesus’ features the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles.

“This is the first time since 2006 that a group has occupied the top spot on the chart for that many weeks.”

A recent Zenit article reported on the success of this initiative.

To access the complete Zenit report, please visit:

Zenit: Nuns Make Billboard Chart History (8 AUG 13)

Background information:

Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles

Reflection Starter from Booker T. Washington

“Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.” – Booker T. Washington

11 August 2013

Irish Philharmonic Chorus: “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name”

As our Sunday celebration continues, I offer this version of the Irish Philharmonic Chorus singing “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name”:

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. The assigned readings are Wisdom 18:6-9; Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19; and Luke 12:32-48. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 33 (Psalm 33:1, 12, 18-22).

For one version of the Responsorial Psalm set to music, please visit:

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm 33 Let Your Mercy Be On Us {Marty Haugen]

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

“Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”

And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, the master will put the servant in charge of all his property. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

Reflections on this day and on these readings:

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales: Sundays Salesian: Nineteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Cycle C) (August 11, 2013)

Msgr. Charles Pope: On Forsaking Fear By Remaining Ready. A Homily for the 19th Sunday of the Year (10 AUG 13)

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio: Faith as a Dynamic Journey

The Deacon’s Bench: Homily for August 11, 2013: 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (10 AUG 13)

Word on Fire: Sermon 657: Faith and the Reasoning of the Religious Mind: 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dr. Scott Hahn: Faith of Our Fathers (August 11th 2013 - 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time)

The Catholic World Report Blog: The Vigilant and Faithful Disciple (10 AUG 13)

The Word Engaged: Ancestral Courage (19th Sunday of Ordinary Time C)

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the beauty of wildflowers.

On the Lack of Catholic/Christian Voices in Mainstream Media

“I haunt flea markets, partly because the stuff is so cheap (and I am genetically Scottish), but partly, too, because I find things there that will never appear in a big box store, or any other chain retail environment. Likewise, I haunt second-hand bookstores, where the range of possible titles to be found is vastly greater than in stores confined to selling only those books that happen to be in print.

“Quality is an issue here. Most things one finds in a flea market are better made and will last longer, as well as being a lot cheaper than anything bought new. This general rule may not apply to food, or electronic devices. But in the case of books I’d rather pay five dollars for something wove-papered and stitched, than, say, $29.95 for shinily wrapped pulp, crudely glued together. Indeed, it is a mystery to me how e-books have failed to kill off ghastly paperbacks altogether.”

In a recent commentary, writer David Warren reflected on the absence of genuinely Catholic and Christian voices in “mainstream media.”

To access his complete post, please visit:

The Catholic Thing: The Monotonously Free Press (10 AUG 13)

Reflection Starter from St. Francis of Assisi

“It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.” – Saint Francis of Assisi

10 August 2013

Celtic Thunder: “Belfast Polka”

As we close this blessed week, I offer this version Celtic Thunder performing the Belfast Polka:

Hmmm

This “Oneliner” was recently offered by Pastor Tim Davis (pastor of Westside Bible Church, Victoria, British Columbia):

“Always bring a nail file, scissors, tweezers, a corkscrew, a toothpick and a bottle opener to a knife fight.” – The Swiss Army

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for Your good and faithful deacons and for all You do for them and through them.

Kathy Schiffer on Saint Lawrence

“St. Lawrence, one of seven deacons who served under Pope Sixtus II, died on August 10, in 258 A.D.  According to legend, he was ‘roasted’ alive on a grill – but maintaining his good humor to the end, he is reputed to have said during his ordeal, ‘Turn me over.  I’m done on this side.’”

In a recent commentary, writer Kathy Schiffer reflected on the martyrdom of Saint Lawrence, deacon and martyr, whose feast the Church celebrates today.

To access Ms. Schiffer’s complete post, please visit:

Seasons of Grace: Turn Me Over, I’m Done On This Side! (8 AUG 13)

Reflection Starter from Corrie ten Boom

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” – Corrie ten Boom

09 August 2013

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways You help us to sense Your presence, knocking at the doors of our hearts.

From Golf to the Religious Life

“If things had gone according to the dream of his youth, Dominican Brother Peter Hannah would have been playing in this year’s PGA Championship. The tournament, which runs Aug. 8-11 in Rochester, N.Y., showcases the best players in the game, and it is the final leg of professional golf’s four major tournaments (the other three being the Masters, the U.S. Open and the British Open).

“While the PGA Championship was something Brother Peter had hoped to play in one day, God, as they say, had other plans.”

A recent National Catholic Register interview described Brother Peter’s journey from golf to the Dominican order and, God willing, to the priesthood.

To access the complete National Catholic Register article, please visit:

National Catholic Register: A God Greater Than Golf (8 AUG 13)

Background information:

Order of Preachers (the Dominican Order)

Reflection Starter from Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Don’t waste yourself in rejection, nor bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

08 August 2013

CDC Reports Progress on Childhood Obesity

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that nineteen states and territories (including Massachusetts and New Hampshire) have reported decreases in obesity among low-income preschoolers. Twenty states (including Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont) and Puerto Rico held steady at their current rate, and obesity increased slightly in three states. Forty three states and territories participated in this survey.

In spite of these decreases, one in eight preschoolers is obese in the U.S. According to current statistics, children are five times more likely to be obese as an adult if they are overweight or obese between the ages of three and five years. Obesity in early childhood increases the risk of high cholesterol, high blood sugar, asthma, and mental health problems later in childhood and adolescence.

CDC is encouraging state and local officials to step up efforts to drive down rates of childhood obesity. Business leaders, childcare providers, healthcare providers, communities, and families are some of the groups that influence nutrition and physical activity in the places where young children live, learn, and play. CDC is recommending that state and local officials assist these groups by:

  • making it easier for families to buy healthy, affordable foods, and beverages in their neighborhoods;
  • helping provide access to safe, free drinking water in places such as community parks, recreation areas, child care centers, and schools;
  • helping local schools open gyms, playgrounds, and sports fields during non-school hours so children can play safely after school, on weekends, and over the summer;
  • helping child care providers adopt best practices for improving nutrition and physical activity and for limiting computer and television time; and
  • creating partnerships with civic leaders, child care providers, and others to make community changes that promote healthy eating and active living.

To access the complete CDC report, please visit:

CDC: Vital Signs: Progress on Childhood Obesity (August 2013)

Media report:

New York Times: Poor Children Show a Decline in Obesity Rate (6 AUG 13)

Background information:

CDC: Childhood Overweight and Obesity

Community Preventive Services Task Force: The Community Guide: Obesity Prevention and Control

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the ways in which You guide the composition of works of music and for the many ways in which You touch the hearts of Your people with this music.

Msgr. Pope on the Balance of Virtue

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the balance of virtue as we face the various challenges before us in our lives.

To access Msgr. Pope’s complete post, please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: On the Balance of Virtue, as seen in two videos. (2 AUG 13)

Reflection Starter from C. S. Lewis

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” – C. S. Lewis (in The Problem of Pain)

07 August 2013

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, that Your Word is trustworthy.

Deacon Greg: “It’s a big Church”

In a recent post, Deacon Greg Kandra offered a peek at the Church in Tanzania, and he reminds us that the Catholic Church is, indeed, a big Church.

To access this post, please visit:

The Deacon's Bench: It’s a big Church (5 AUG 13)

Reflection Starter from Matthew Kelly

“It constantly amazes me that men and women wander the earth marveling at the highest mountains, the deepest ocean, the whitest sands, the most exotic islands, the most intriguing birds of the air and fish of the sea – and all the time never stop to marvel at themselves and realize their infinite potential as human beings.” – Matthew Kelly (in The Rhythm of Life)

06 August 2013

“Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”

As our feast day celebration continues, I offer this version of “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”:

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. The assigned readings are Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; 2 Peter 1:16-19; and Luke 9:28-36. The Responsorial Psalm is Psalm 97 (Psalm 97:1-2, 5-6, 9).

For one version of the Responsorial Psalm set to music, please visit:

YouTube: Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 97

The Gospel reading is as follows:

Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up a mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.

Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” But he did not know what he was saying.

While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”

After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.

Reflections on this feast and on these readings:

American Catholic: Saint of the Day: Transfiguration of the Lord

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio: The Role of Mountaintop Experiences: A Reflection on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ

The Crossroads Initiative: It is Good for Us to be Here (from a sermon on the feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ by St. Anastasius of Sinai, Bishop)

Women for Faith & Family: The Transfiguration of the Lord

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for being our Resurrection and our Life.

Msgr. Pope on Jesus Being the Resurrection - Now

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on Jesus being the Resurrection – not just in the future, but now.

To access Msgr. Pope’s complete post, please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: On The Human Tendency to “postpone” the Resurrection. A Meditation on Something Jesus said to St. Martha (29 JUL 13)

Reflection Starter from Robert Louis Stevenson

“We must accept life for what it actually is – a challenge to our quality without which we should never know of what stuff we are made, or grow to our full stature.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

05 August 2013

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many good priests You have placed in our lives and in the lives of all Your people throughoutthe history of the Church.

The Consoler of Struggling Souls

Here’s something you can do for your parish priest: congratulate him on his feast day. It’s coming up soon; August 4, to be exact. It’s actually the feast day of St. John Vianney, but since he’s the patron saint of the thousands of parish priests all over the world, in a real way it’s a special day for each and every one of them.

The day falls this year on a Sunday, so the feast itself might be overlooked. That would be too bad, since St. John Vianney, a parish priest himself, is so special he ought to be remembered. And by the way, referring to St. John Vianney as a parish priest is akin to thinking of St. Paul as just another missionary. He set the bar so high that it probably will never be equaled.

St. Jean-Baptiste Marie Vianney came to his calling in the wake of the violently anti-Catholic French Revolution, when many Catholics--priests, religious men and women, lay people--received the crown of martyrdom. But what would follow was a flowering of the Catholic faith, particularly in France, and St. John Vianney was at its vanguard.

Born in 1786 in Lyons to devout Catholic parents, he was known as the Curé of Ars, after the village to which he was assigned once he was ordained a priest. There he went to work, and once word began to spread about his amazing abilities as a confessor and a counselor, he was swamped with penitents. As I wrote about him a few years ago (in Our Sunday Visitor’s Treasury of Catholic Stories):

“The numbers stagger the imagination, but they are accurate--20,000 visitors to the small town of Ars-en-Dombes, just to hear his words of advice; the Curé himself spending up to 18 hours a day in the confessional, just to console struggling souls...”

It might have sounded impossible, and indeed it did to some of Father Vianney’s fellow priests--whose complaints found their way to the local bishop.

“Is that so? the bishop responded. In that case, he added, it’s too bad that a few more priests didn’t have a touch of exactly the same thing.”

St. John Vianney began his day at the improbable hour of 1 a.m. and filled it with confessions, lessons, the Mass and private prayer. It was only a few yards from church to rectory, where he would take a noontime meal, but so many people wanted his blessing or a few words of comfort that it took him a while to get there. After an hour (at the most) of private time, it was back to the confessional until perhaps 8 p.m., and then, after a personal meeting or two and more prayer, he might get to sleep at 9:30 or 10--for what would be a short night indeed.

He was 73 when he died in 1859, and the Church quickly paid public tribute to his extraordinary priesthood. Pope Pius XI canonized him in 1925, and recognized him as the patron of all parish priests four years later. In 1986, the 200th anniversary of his birth, Pope John Paul II visited the little town of Ars, and the “Year of the Priest,” from 2009 to 2010, was placed under his patronage by Pope Benedict XVI.

After all these years, St. John Vianney remains a model for priests everywhere. May they still follow his example--and may they all have a blessed day on August 4!

(This essay is a recent “Light One Candle” column, written by Jerry Costello, of The Christophers; it is one of a series of weekly columns that deal with a variety of topics and current events.)

Background information:

The Christophers: Christopher Radio & Video

Reflection Starter from G. K. Chesterton

“The man who lives in contact with what he believes to be a living Church is a man always expecting to meet Plato and Shakespeare tomorrow at breakfast. He is always expecting to see some truth that he has never seen before.” – G. K. Chesterton

04 August 2013

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, who quietly strive daily to proclaim Your Gospel message by their example and by their words.

Msgr. Pope on Asking “Why?”

“One of the more common misunderstandings of the modern age, we might even call it a delusion, is to confuse explanation with meaning. Through scientific method and other empirical ways of studying, we have gotten very good at explaining many of the processes and mechanics of the natural world.

“But to give explanation, is not the same as to ascribe meaning. To answer how things work is not the same as to answer why.

“Why, for example, do things exist at all? Why is there existence vs. nonexistence? Why is there observable order in the universe vs. chaos. Showing for example the wonderful and symbiotic relationship of photosynthesis and describing how it works at the molecular level, does not explain why it is there in the first place. Explanation is not the same as meaning; ‘how’ is not the same as ‘why.’”

In a recent commentary, Monsignor Charles Pope (pastor of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Parish, Washington, DC) reflected on the “Why?” of things in the context of God’s love for us.

To access Msgr. Pope’s complete post, please visit:

Msgr. Charles Pope: Why? A Simple question often overlooked or suppressed today. But we who believe must keep asking it of a secular world. (1 AUG 13)

Reflection Starter from St. Francis of Assisi

“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.” - Saint Francis of Assisi

03 August 2013

Johnny Cash and Roy Clark: “Orange Blossom Special”

As we close this blessed week, I offer this version of Johnny Cash and Roy Clark presenting “Orange Blossom Special”:

Holy Father’s Prayer Intentions for August

The Holy Father’s prayer intentions for August are:

General intention: “That parents and teachers may help the new generation to grow in upright conscience and life.”

Mission intention: “That the local Church in Africa, faithfully proclaiming the Gospel, may promote peace and justice.”

Thank You, Lord

Thank you, Lord, for the many ways You teach us and encourage us through Holy Scripture.

On One Soldier’s Introduction to The Rosary

“I love praying the Rosary.  It always has given me peace whenever I have recited it, and my family prays the Sorrowful Mysteries together each Lent.  However, the person who had the greatest devotion to the Rosary in my family was my Protestant Uncle Ralph.

“When I was growing up my family lived next door to Uncle Ralph and his family.  Uncle Ralph was my favorite uncle.  He always had a sense of fun, loved to shoot the breeze with kids and did a hilarious Donald Duck imitation.  My Dad’s family were all Protestant; my brother and I were Catholic because my Dad had married my Catholic Mom, so I was surprised one day during my teen years when Uncle Ralph pulled out his rosary and told me how he came to always carry it.”

In a recent post, Donald R. McClarey reflected on the the introduction of his uncle to the Rosary as he was preparing for deployment with the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

To access his complete post, please visit:

The American Catholic: Uncle Ralph, the Rosary and the Korean War (28 JUL 13)

Reflection Starter

“Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere.” – Source Unknown

02 August 2013

Pope John Paul II “Dancing with the Youth”

In 1986, Pope John Paul II made a papal visit to Australia. This video captures one moment from that visit:

Thank you, Deacon Greg Kandra, for the tip

Congratulations to Son Tom!

Providence Business News recently held its 9th annual 40 Under Forty awards celebration at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, RI. One of the recipients, I am pleased to announce, was son Tom, proprietor of LOPCO Contracting.

The 40 Under Forty program is designed to identify young business executives or entrepreneurs who have exhibited great career success and who also give back to the community in significant ways.

Congratulations, Tom!!!

To access a Providence Business News report on this event, please visit:

Providence Business News: 40 Under Forty celebrate Rhode Island, each other in Newport (30 JUL 13)

Background information:

LOPCO Contracting